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Samsung’s answer to the Apple Watch Ultra might launch soon

Published May 2nd, 2024 12:38PM EDT
Apple Watch Ultra 2 with the Modular Ultra watch face
Image: Joe Wituschek for BGR

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Apple will launch the Apple Watch Ultra 3 this year, the next version of the best smartwatch Apple has ever made. Despite how good it is, there’s no real competitor for the Ultra from Apple’s biggest rivals in the industry. The Apple Watch Ultra works only with the iPhone, so Android owners can’t really use it with their handsets. There’s an argument that rugged smartwatches with premium features and multi-day battery life exist from Garmin and others, but they don’t offer the same deep integration as an Apple Watch.

Android users lack an Apple Watch Ultra alternative that would fit into their ecosystems. There’s no Ultra version of a Galaxy or Pixel smartwatch to accompany Galaxy or Pixel smartphones. But things might change this year, and it could happen very soon. Samsung quietly revealed that it’s working on a “premium” smartwatch, which seems like it’ll be an Apple Watch Ultra rival.

Samsung has been making Galaxy Watch models for years. We should expect a new generation to hit the market soon. Moreover, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Ring earlier this year, beating Apple to the punch with a smart ring that can complement a smartwatch. The Galaxy Ring will get its proper launch event in a few months.

It’ll probably happen in early July when Samsung is expected to unveil at least two of its new foldable Galaxy Z foldable phones planned for this year.

We already knew all that well ahead of Samsung’s quarterly earnings report earlier the company released this week. But Samsung used its earnings call to drop the big reveal that it plans to launch a “premium” smartwatch this year.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 features: Carbon neutrality is a highlight.
Apple Watch Ultra 2 features, or what the Galaxy Watch Ultra should attempt to match.

While talking about the performance of its mobile division, Samsung said that demand for premium and mid-range phones decreased in volume and value during the slower first quarter. Due to seasonality, Samsung expects smartphone demand to further decline in the second quarter.

However, the Korean giant says the smartphone market will rebound in the second half of the year due to “stabilizing consumer sentiment, the expansion of AI products and services, and economic growth in emerging markets.”

That’s the context that Samsung used to drop the unexpected remark about a potential Galaxy-branded Apple Watch Ultra wearable:

The MX [mobile] Business will seek annual growth in smartphone sales and aims to maintain sales momentum through the expansion of Galaxy AI to existing and new flagship products across foldable devices and tablets. For wearables, it will strengthen the Galaxy ecosystem experience through the expansion of new models and form factors like the Galaxy Ring. For smartwatches, the MX Business will strive to meet demand for upgrades through the launch of new premium models.

Samsung hasn’t provided any product names except for the Galaxy Ring, which it already announced. However, Samsung makes a clear distinction between the “new models” and the “new premium models” when it comes to smartwatches.

It’s too early to tell what a Galaxy Watch Ultra would have to offer. It’s not even clear that Samsung would use such branding, though it would make sense.

After all, Samsung has been selling Galaxy S Ultra phones for a few years. Adding the Ultra particle to a smartwatch that can go toe to toe against the Apple Watch Ultra would make sense. Even though, yes, we’ll all say that Samsung has copied Apple. It’s what happens in the industry.

It also makes sense for Samsung to launch a more expensive smartwatch. The company is looking to increase revenue for the mobile division in the second half of the year. Samsung still had a stellar March quarter, with operating profit jumping nearly 933% due to strong performance from the chip division.

As an Apple Watch owner who hasn’t yet upgraded to an Ultra, I think Apple needs the competition in this segment.

The Apple Watch Ultra 3 already sounds like a more muted upgrade. This proves what I’ve been saying since the first-gen model: that the Ultra might not need yearly refreshes. But pressure from Samsung, and potentially others, might force Apple to deliver more meaningful upgrades in the coming years.

I’ll also note rumors that say Samsung is looking to add blood sugar monitoring to its Galaxy Watch models. These aren’t tied to a premium Galaxy Watch. But such a feature would certainly be welcome, assuming Samsung does it right. Apple, of course, is also developing similar tech, according to a variety of rumors.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.